According to Mathisha Panagoda (AYO cellist 2004-2014), law and music are complementary fields. ‘Law requires many skills I attribute to my AYO training – e.g. patience, analysis and hard work’. A lawyer with Caroll & O’Dea Lawyers and casual cellist with the Sydney Symphony, Mathisha’s achievements include recipient of two Banff residencies and founder of the Sydney Camerata.
Mathisha was one of three Australians chosen for Google’s social media phenomena The YouTube Symphony, in which musicians selected via online auditions performed a live-broadcast Sydney Opera House concert. ‘I recorded my audition in my bedroom and it went global. I suppose I should have brushed my hair and cleaned my room…’ Can social media be a useful tool for musicians? ‘Absolutely – seek out opportunities, apply for them and just put yourself out there.’
One of the world’s leading solo harpists, Alice’s many achievements include myriad international performances, commissioning new works for the electro-acoustic harp and recipient of an Antarctic Arts Fellowship. For the fellowship she performed a solo concert at Mawson Station and ‘recorded the sound of the wind through the harp strings on the ice’. Alice just finished organising the World Harp Congress in Sydney: ‘It’s exciting – the harp is currently taking a leading role in crossing genres. For example, hearing contemporary music on a Scottish folk harp is very rejuvenating.’
The only harpist at her first National Music Camp (1978-80), Alice valued how AYO’s non-competitive atmosphere ‘facilitated individual creative engagement; musicians weren’t afraid to tell their own stories’. A secret for career success? ‘Follow your own path without fear’.
Music has always been a passion for Damien. In 1962, he attended a state Music Camp as a pianist, an experience that expanded his musical horizon and inspired him to learn the bassoon. National Music Camp then became the highlight of Damien’s year, ‘a time of incredibly wonderful activity in a setting of like-minded musicians’. Damien went on to study medicine and become a doctor.
Damien’s medical achievements are widely recognised, in particular the instrumental role he played in the establishment of newborn hearing screening in South Australia. Despite his career choice, Damien ‘always saw himself primarily as a musician’; he is enjoying his recent retirement from medicine to become a full time musician (‘which takes many more work hours!’), including accompanying students at the Conservatorium.
Violist/Violinist Beverley Burlakov was in a group of musicians who came up from Newcastle Conservatorium to attend AYO’s early National Music Camps (1959-63): ‘We didn’t audition in those days – they just grabbed us’. Having played with the Sydney Symphony, Melbourne Symphony and Opera Orchestras, Beverley found that ‘everywhere we played I met people from AYO’. She also worked with Haifa (Israel) and Halle Orchestras (Manchester UK) and taught composition and classroom music in schools for 14 years, which she absolutely loved.
Career highlight? ‘MSO UNICEF concerts with Danny Kaye; even the musicians who never normally laughed were smiling.’ Any regrets? ‘No – music is such an exciting life. You might complain about getting a sore back and a headache from the brass players, but you’d never want to change it.’